WATCH: Wolves fans buy part of club's history from landmark city church
Wolves fans are snapping up pieces of the club’s history as a landmark church is gutted to make way for an antiques emporium.
Pews from St Luke’s Church in Blakenhall, which has links with Wolves’ 19th century origins, are being sold off for up to £100 each as the site is cleared.
The ornate building, which closed eight years ago, sits next to St Luke’s School, which was the birth place of St Luke’s FC. The club eventually became Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The church, opened in 1861, was bought by Czero Developments for a nominal £1 fee.
Company owner Simon Linford said a Wolves fan was one of the first to buy a pew because of the church’s links with the club.
He said work at the site was progressing rapidly and it was hoped to open the emporium earlier than anticipated, possibly as soon as January.
Mr Linford, a bell ringer, organised a peal of bells at the church last Saturday to celebrate bringing the building back into use.
He said: “I was looking for a way to bring it back to life and had the idea of using it to sell antiques.
“I invited some people who have done something similar at a church in Stoke-on-Trent to check it out and they said it would work.
“It’s an intriguing building and I’m delighted to see it used in this way. It was wonderful to hear the bells ring for the first time in years.”
The work includes building a cafe, office and revamping the toilets. Parking for 25 vehicles will be provided.
It is planned to invite around 35 independent stall holders to sell their wares at the site, focusing on vintage goods and collectables rather than high-end antique furniture.
Concerns about the listed building’s poor state of repair saw it placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
The conversion idea was strongly backed by the Diocese of Lichfield, The Church of England and the vicar of the parish of St Luke’s, Richard Espin-Bradley.
In a document to the council, Andrew Mason from the Diocese, said: “I write in full support of this application to bring back into sustainable use this iconic Grade II listed building.
“The proposal to convert the closed church into an antiques emporium, thus repairing and opening the church up to the wider public to enjoy is to be warmly welcomed.”
Mr Linford said a couple of beams needed work, access needed to be widened and slates on the spire have already been fixed.
He said the main aim was to make the church safe, and that was not going to be as extensive a job as first anticipated.
“We initially thought it would be spring before we could open but work is going well and it looks like we could be open in the new year.”
It is also hoped, in a nod to the site’s historic past, to include a permanent Wolves memorabilia stall at the emporium.
Mr Linford said it would be a ‘fitting’ inclusion.
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